The music of Billy Joel (part 1 or 4)

Album: Cold Spring Harbor (1971)
His debut record. Through an error in the album's mastering, the songs played slightly too fast, causing Joel's voice to sound unnaturally high (a semitone higher—Joel joked that he sounded more like one of The Chipmunks than himself.) In a 2011 interview, Joel stated that despite the re-mix, he believes that the album still does not sound very good.

Thoughts: Not his best album. It has that very 70s sound (Elton John, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce, James Taylor), it feels like Billy Joel hadn’t found his own voice yet.

Favorite tracks: Everybody Loves You Now

Favorite lyric:
“Close your eyes when you don't want to see
And stay at home when you don't want to go
Only speak to those who will agree
Yeah, and close your mind when you don't want to know”

Album: Piano Man (1973)
His breakthrough album. The single "Piano Man" is perhaps his most well-known song, a fictionalized retelling of Joel's days as a lounge singer in Los Angeles.

Thoughts: The album is a bit corny and unintentionally funny at times, but he plays the piano well.

Favorite tracks: Piano ManCaptain Jack

Favorite lyrics:

“Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he's quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there's someplace that he'd rather be
He says, "Bill, I believe this is killing me.
As the smile ran away from his face
Well I'm sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place"

And if you can't understand why your world is so dead
And why you've got to keep in style and feed your head
Well, you're twenty-one and still your mother makes your bed
and that's too long...

Album: Streetlife Serenade (1974)

It marked the beginning of his frosty relationship with critics and the music industry more generally.

Favorite tracks: No liked tracks

Have you listened to the music of Billy Joel? Or are you a newcomer to the music as I am? As always, comments are welcome. Next week part 2


  1. Start the fire buddy!! Hey! Play something from The Stranger!

    1. @thevoid99: “We Didn't Start The Fire” is a classic. Funny you should mention The Stranger, it’s my favorite album by Billy Idol, will be shared, you can bank on that!

  2. Great post!
    I was listening to the first two albums this weekend, coincidently. I happen to be a huge BJ fan of the older days stuff. I agree with your comments. I have a personal theory about Billy Joel. I think he is terribly lazy. There is a song (that I have loved for many years) called "I've loved these days" that sums up a decadent lifestyle and I suspect he has done too much "eating, drinking and blow" - but in a non-threatening suburban way - and he never really pushed himself or extended himself. He's like a brilliantly talented musican who hid in pop songs, rather than a hard worker who made it to the top. I get the feeling he just never tried very hard...
    But that doesn't mean I don't love his albums (the earlier ones anyway) and I am not grateful for what he did do.

    1. @Lisa Thatcher: Thank you! That’s an interesting theory. I don’t really know enough about his life to comment on his personality and such. Appears he released albums at a steady rate over the years, though maybe he had potential to create even better albums.

  3. His first three albums are very patchy, but 'The Ballad of Billy The Kid' is pretty funny when you realise it's a parody.

    1. @Graham: Agree the early albums are patchy. I missed the parody aspect of The Ballad of Billy The Kid, thanks


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